US Decision to Drop Aid Over Gaza Was an Odd One

NPR delves into how atypical it is to go that route when overland transport is happening
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2024 6:35 PM CST
US Decision to Drop Aid Over Gaza Was an Odd One
Humanitarian aid is dropped by the United States over Gaza City, Gaza Strip, on Saturday, March 2, 2024.   (AP Photo/Mohammed Hajjar)

The US made its first airdrop of humanitarian aid in Gaza on Saturday afternoon, and the New York Times reports a second airdrop of similar size occurred Tuesday, with 36,800 ready-to-eat meals delivered by parachute. Humanitarian aid veterans have criticized the drops as ineffective, costly, dangerous, and an option of last resort, and NPR digs at just why that's so via an interview with Jeremy Konyndyk, who heads Refugees International and led USAID's Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance under the Obama administration. His standout points:

  • Truly a last resort: Konyndyk says they're typically only used in instances where there is no way to physically access the people in need. He gives the example of Iraqi Yazidis who fled up Sinjar mountain in a bid to escape ISIS in 2014. He can't think of a time where airdrops occurred when overland transport is also happening, as it is in Gaza.
  • Magnitude: The cost is high (up to 10x that of overland transport) and the volumes are much lower. Only 96 trucks bearing aid are managing to arrive in Gaza on average each day; each airdrop represents what about six trucks could have brought in. And they won't make a dent: Mother Jones reports 6.6 million meals are needed per day.
  • A suggested alternative: The Times cites experts who say US energy would be better spent trying "to persuade Israel to open more border crossings and speed up inspections."
  • A third possible route: If not by land or air, then by sea? The BBC reports World Central Kitchen founder José Andrés had this to say: "We need to bring food into Gaza any way we can. We should be bringing it by the sea." Biden has reportedly said the US will "redouble our efforts to open a maritime corridor."
(Listen to the full NPR interview here.)

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